NDP leader not saying if ‘fair’ carbon price includes levy on gasoline

Click to play video: 'Carbon tax increase fuels affordability politics'
Carbon tax increase fuels affordability politics
WATCH: The federal carbon tax has increased by 23 per cent, meaning burning fossil fuels will cost most Canadians more money, but they'll also get more money in rebates. David Akin explains why hundreds of economists support the hike; how politicians from all sides are criticizing the increase; how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is responding; and why the Liberals' poor communication is contributing to the criticism – Apr 1, 2024

Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh did not answer on Monday when asked by reporters whether his party’s climate policy would include a carbon price on gasoline after saying he wants a more “fair” deal for working people.

“Our position on fighting the climate crisis has not changed. We believe absolutely in a price on pollution, but we also believe the price has to be fair, and right now the Liberals are not making a fair plan. They’re saying big polluters get bigger and bigger profits and working class people get nothing. That is wrong,” Singh said ahead of question period.

However, specifics of that plan are less clear. Singh was asked at least nine times by reporters if his vision of a fairer plan includes a carbon price on gasoline.

Singh did not clearly answer.

When pressed by reporters, Singh said to look at the NDP’s voting record on the issue.

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This comes after the NDP voted along with a non-binding Conservative motion last week that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau host a televised meeting with the premiers to talk about the recent carbon price increase and possible alternatives.

The NDP have previously voted against the government on carbon pricing items, including legislation to grant farmers an exemption for the levy for using natural gas to dry grain.

This legislation, C-234, has passed the Senate with amendments and was sent back to the House of Commons in December.

Click to play video: 'Canadian farmers demand relief from price on carbon imposed by federal government'
Canadian farmers demand relief from price on carbon imposed by federal government

Prior to last week’s vote, NDP environment critic Laurel Collins said that the Liberals are treating the carbon price as the “be-all-end-all” of climate policy.

At a Thursday speech at the Broadbent Progress Summit, Singh said that they cannot rely on free market mechanisms like the carbon price to be the main driver in combatting climate change, adding that the impacts of it are also drivers of affordability challenges.

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Singh included issues like drought driving up food prices and the high cost of fixing infrastructure like bridges and roads after floods in his speech.

On Friday, Trudeau said he “felt for the NDP and Jagmeet,” suggesting the party is facing political headwinds over the current debate around the carbon price.

Trudeau’s Liberals have also faced backlash over recent months about the carbon price and in particular, the increase that went into effect on April 1.

Trudeau said that people rely on their government to make the right choices on issues like climate change and emphasized that the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) said eight out of 10 families get more back in rebates than they pay, where the federal backstop applies.

That same March 2023 report said most Canadians see a net loss when broader economic factors like potentially decreased employment and investment income are considered.

On April 1, the carbon price increased from $65 per tonne to $80. On Monday, the CRA began to direct deposit the first of the 2024/25 rebates into people’s bank accounts in the provinces, all but British Columbia and Quebec, where the price applies.

In October, Trudeau announced plans to increase the rural top-up for rebates from an extra 10 per cent to 20 per cent. However, that legislation has not yet passed the House of Commons.

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On the main points of Singh’s eventual climate plan for the NDP he says there are three main points.

“We want to see a plan where the big polluters pay their share, that’s fair to workers, and reduces our emissions,” Singh said before entering question period.

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